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  1. AtrusBatleth

    First jump: Tandem or AFF?

    For what it's worth (rookie jumper speaking), I recommend doing a tandem first, and NOT wearing an altimeter and deploying. Soak in the experience. It can be very overwhelming and disorienting. Even if you do a tandem but you deploy, you will likely "miss out" on most of your jump (at least the freefall) because you will be too distracted reading your altitude and remembering what you need to do. What pushed me to finish AFF was the memory of that first tandem where I could just enjoy the view and have fun. Not to say AFF jumps were not fun in their own way, but they are more focused on accomplishing goals, and they can be hard work. Let yourself relax and truly enjoy a jump before you dedicate the next 24 jumps and a few thousand dollars to completing AFF.
  2. AtrusBatleth

    So embarrassing. Need to repeat aff2

    Congrats on the A! Yeah the money sucks when you have to repeat. I did level 3 (release dive, not sure what the standard AFF label is) about 5 times, $150 a pop. It just takes me a little longer to do things, and the 45 seconds or so per jump wasn't enough. It was frustrating because I felt like I was maintaining stability just fine, but my instructor wasnt comfortable releasing me. I could have done 10 more attempts and maybe passed by then, but I figured 20 minutes in a wind tunnel would be more economical. Worked out fine after that, I even skipped a level or 2 upon my return. It also helped that when I returned, my old instructor (who was a skinny thing next to me) paired me with a heavier instructor that was able to match my speed easier. But repeating levels wasnt embarrassing. Now landing long as a student and taking out a tree branch right next to my instructors trailer, THAT was embarrassing. I somehow managed to walk away from that incident without a new nickname.
  3. Making a copy of customer's existing gear is not a scam... You misunderstand me. I mean that manufacturers selling you a new $2k wingsuit are not scamming you. The premise for you trying to reverse engineer your wingsuit to save money is that you think it should not actually cost $2k, implying that manufacturers are ripping you off selling new units for $2k. I just don't think that's the case.
  4. While I can't speak to skydive gear specifically, in my experience in industry (electric utilities), reverse engineering a product to make a small number of copies is always MORE expensive than the original purchase price. The reason to reverse engineer and copy a product is because it is no longer made and unavailable, and your unique application makes it difficult or impossible to replace with currently available products. The only time I can think of where a product is reverse engineered to save money is if you plan to mass produce that product and benefit from economies of scale. This would only be relevant if the original patent expired, or if you live in a country that is loose on enforcing international patents. Suck it up and just pay the $2k for a new wing suit. They know what they're doing, they're not running a scam operation (well I suppose some of them are; buy from a reputable manufacturer).
  5. AtrusBatleth

    How soon did you start buying gear?

    When to buy gear all depends on your experiences and preferences. After a few jumps as a student, you find out what annoys you most, and target buying your own gear that can make things better. I also hated the goggles + pro-tec helmet combination when I was a student. The freebie/tandem goggles especially; I know this makes me sound like a whuffo, but I had one early jump where they started coming loose and had blurry vision in freefall, plus they dug into my face painfully, so the first thing I purchased (after 3 jumps) was more comfortable goggles so I didn't have to rely on the cheap ones at the DZ. I still didn't like pulling my goggles down being restricted by the helmet chin strap, but where I trained all students had to wear the DZ's pro-tec helmets even without radios (in hindsight, probably for injury liability since full face helmets are not impact rated). As a student I trained with a digital Viso hand altimeter. Once I finished AFF (right at 25 jumps), I learned that the digital rentals were only for students, and fun jumpers that rented an altimeter got analog. I did one jump with the analog and hated it (the altimeter; I've never hated any of my jumps ). I found it bulky and hard to read with precision under canopy. So after 26 jumps I ordered my own digital altimeter that I was familiar with and a cheap used full-face helmet so I could stop dealing with goggles and helmet chin straps. The full face helmet was a super tight fit (I have a large melon) with no room for glasses and a major scratched up visor, but it served it's purpose (still using it 60 jumps later). With my own helmet and altimeter, I finally started to feel like a "real skydiver" (but I agree with others, you're a real skydiver after AFF #1). I was going to wait a year or so before investing in my own rig, but a stranger gave me a 50% off a Wings container that was going to expire soon and just too good to pass up, so with only 28 jumps and at the end of the season, I bought the container and then purchased the canopies and AAD during the winter break. It was major sticker shock (it was hard to find used gear at my weight so everything was new), but I definitely do not regret being pushed into the early purchase. Jumping with a custom fit harness/container vs. student rental gear is like night and day. I purchased gloves when I started jumping in the winter. This was harder than I imagined, because my full-face helmet has a one-hand opening mechanism that requires the fingers to get some traction on the visor, so I took my helmet to stores and tried on many many pairs of gloves before I found ones that felt good. Next purchase was a jumpsuit and a couple extra altimeters after 66 jumps. I'm beyond "big boy" and more in the "fat bastard" weight class, so I was having a hard time keeping "up" with other jumpers, plus it was hard finding rental suits that properly fit me. I got a new custom fit RW/FS jumpsuit that has really helped to slow me down. And I didn't like being altitude "blind" when I was tracking, so I got an analog with a mudflap mount and an audible. I've had a blast looking back over my old logbook entries at when I got my various gear. I also noticed I used to document a lot of details on how I packed that I've pretty much given up on (I guess I'm a trash packer now). Have fun finishing AFF and looking forward to being a fun jumper! You've got so much to look forward to.
  6. AtrusBatleth

    Altimeter Combos

    What kind of helmet mount? I've heard of the color-light based altis but I get the impression you are talking about something else. Take a look at the attachment. Thanks, I didn't see the attachment until I looked with my computer. Interesting, I had not seen a mount like that before.
  7. AtrusBatleth

    Altimeter Combos

    What kind of helmet mount? I've heard of the color-light based altis but I get the impression you are talking about something else.
  8. AtrusBatleth

    Altimeter Combos

    I mainly use a digital wrist mount. I recently added an audible and an analog on a mudflap mount for backup. I didn't like being surprised how much altitude I lost when tracking away at break off, because I can't see my arm. The audible definitely helps with that. The mudflap mount I think I'm giving up on. I've found that it moves around too much in freefall and sits too high under canopy. I would have to stretch my neck or rotate it with my hand to read it under canopy. Maybe that's just unique to how my rig fits me, or the brand mount I got. I think I'll swap it for a chest strap pillow mount. In theory I like analog for being easier to see in freefall and digital for more precision under canopy. But in practice I trained with a hand digital and that's what I'm still used to. I barely think to look at my analog. But its peace of mind knowing I have a 2nd visual alti if something were messed up with my primary (battery/electrical failure, cracked screen or knocked off in a collision, whatever). Altis are cheap. Might as well get multiple.
  9. AtrusBatleth

    Helmet/goggle recommendations

    I'm aware of the impact rated options out there, I was more looking for recommendations on the goggles. I didn't realize some jumpers were just using ordinary sunglasses. Maybe I've been making this overly complicated.
  10. AtrusBatleth

    Helmet/goggle recommendations

    I'm considering a new helmet, something open face and impact rated. When I was a student I hated how the goggle straps were restricted by the helmet chin strap when I would pull the goggles off under canopy (pulled them down to my chin). That's why I bought a full face after AFF. Now that I'm thinking of going back to open face I'm wondering if there are other options for dealing with the goggles. The Tonfly ICE looked appealing with the goggle strap retainer outside the helmet, but they told me that was more for skiing and that skydive goggles would still have to be worn inside the helmet. Do any of you open face jumpers have any success pulling your goggles off and up on top of your helmet? Are there other solutions I have not considered? Keeping the goggles on under canopy is not an option for me (just a very strong preference).
  11. Welcome, have fun in AFF and remember to always listen to your instructor. Personally I would recommend doing a tandem before starting AFF, since your first jump can be disorienting and overwhelming, but to each his own. And tunnel time can be very useful for AFF training purposes if you get stuck, but as long as you are progressing through your AFF jumps ok then you might as well save your money for jump tickets. Tunnel time may be expensive but if you consider how much freefall time you get on an AFF jump, tunnel is cheaper per minute of flying. Keep that in mind if you have to start repeating jumps.
  12. That took me a second, like the wife who told her husband the 710 cap was loose in her car. I've never heard the closing pin referred to as a six pin before. I guess it does make a six.
  13. AtrusBatleth

    Getting over the fear?

    Personally I didn't really have fear; butterflies when the door opened for about the first 6 jumps sure, but not fear. Part of that is just my personality as I am a very calm analytical type (engineer by trade). But the other reason I was calm for AFF, which might help you, is that I studied. A lot. I found some super helpful videos on YouTube from Australian Parachute Association called "Cutaway". Watched them many times and imagined these scenarios and the response in my mind throughout the day (I would go through the motions of my next dive flow while jogging. Neighbors probably thought I was crazy with the strange hand waving). Studying what might go wrong helped me gain confidence that I would know what to do if it happened to me. I also enjoyed watching others AFF videos, gave me an idea of what to expect. I also studied the gear, and even started reading the SIM (It's a free pdf download, you should check it out). When I finally took the AFF ground school it turned out to be largely review. Knowledge is power. As for why I went through AFF, it was purely the cost at first. I finished my first tandem, loved it, but thought, "it was fun once but not worth all that expense to do it again." Then they dangled the half-price 2nd jump at me like a carrot, and I thought "well maybe just once more." Then I started reading about AFF and crunching the numbers and realized in the long run I could bring the cost per jump down to a more sustainable level. After I started studying for AFF I was fascinated with the gear, the procedures, etc. I really loved learning the new subject. Then after a few AFF jumps I discovered the joy of doing flips, tracking, back flying, etc. All fun stuff that tandem passengers never get to do. Most of all I think I've fallen in love with the peace and quiet of being alone under canopy. Best of luck to you getting over your fear; the best still lies ahead.
  14. AtrusBatleth

    emergency procedures--keeping handles

    Yes a reserve pillow is the same (at least it is on my rig). A cutaway pillow may have been easy to use on the ground in AFF. In a real malfunction you have your body weight, which may be multiplied if it is a spinning malfunction. The 3 ring system is supposed to help with that, but maybe it was assembled improperly, or the cables are contaminated with sand and grit, and now you have a hard pull. That is why some students are taught the "both hands on cutaway handle" EPs. If that's the case, after cutting away when the gear shifts it is going to be difficult to grab the reserve handle in a high stress situation so a D ring will be easier to grab than a pillow handle (all you need is to hook it with your thumb).
  15. AtrusBatleth

    emergency procedures--keeping handles

    I had even fewer jumps when I got my first rig with 2 pillow EP handles and even a freefly pud. My biggest motivation was being interested in freeflying. I knew I wouldn't get there for awhile, but I wanted my rig to be freefly friendly when I did. It was not a decision I made lightly. I recognized this would be a change in how I trained, and I treated it with the respect it deserves. I spoke with instructors, and I practiced with my new handles a lot before I jumped it. I still practice grabbing my handles many times each jump. I feel safe and comfortable with my choice and have no regrets. A secondary factor was that I was frequently nervous about snagging the D handle in the plane, or even freefall. Maybe it was just the rental rigs I used, but the D handles always seemed a bit TOO easy to pull out. I'm more comfortable wearing a rig with pillow handles.